Clever Teacher Gifts Ideas for the Holidays

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clever teacher gift ideas for holidays
Looking for clever teacher gifts ideas? You’re not alone.

Every year readers write to ask the a variation on the same question about clever teacher gifts.

What are some inexpensive gifts for preschool teachers?

How should I handle middle school teacher gifts?

What are the best gifts for high school teachers?

Do you have ideas on gifts for elementary school teachers?

What are some teacher appreciation day gift ideas?

Basically, all these parents want to know what to buy a teacher.

These teacher gift questions happen three times a year.

  1. I get asked about the top 10 teacher gifts right before the December holidays.
  2. In May you’ve got Teacher Appreciation Day.
  3. Then in May or June, I get asked about end of school year teacher gifts.

Parents want to know the etiquette of giving teachers gifts (do I give or do I not give?). They also want to know appropriate gifts for teachers, what are good gifts to choose, and how much they should spend.

Here is my guide to holiday tipping.

To make my advice easier to follow, I’ve broken out tips based on the “level” of school your child attends. Read on for my ideas on what to give your favorite educator this year for the holidays, Teacher Appreciation Day or for the end of the school year.

Inexpensive Gifts for Preschool Teachers

Most nursery or preschool teachers spend a lot of time in the classroom or out on a playground, using their hands. It’s true with teachers at daycare, too. Whether it’s pushing kids on the swings or washing out paintbrushes, these teachers deserve a gift of pampering.

When you’re thinking about inexpensive gifts for preschool teachers or teacher gifts for daycare, why not think about a gift card for a manicure, pedicure or massage? You can make this an inexpensive class gift for your child’s teacher by asking parents to give a small amount. The more people who can contribute, the bigger the gift you can give.

Spafinder Gift Card

I love the notion of giving a Spafinder gift card. This gives the recipient the freedom to choose where her or she wants to get pampered.

Right now you can save big on Spafinder gift cards, depending on how much you want to spend or how much you’ve collected from class parents. Here are two deals you can use as a holiday gifts for teachers.

Spafinder: Clever Teacher Gifts Ideas for the Holidays

Amazon Gift Cards

What teacher wouldn’t love an Amazon Gift Card?! That’s an easy teacher Christmas gift or easy teacher Chanukah gift to be sure. This way the teacher can buy themselves a book to read or something else.

Have a favorite local bookstore you want to support? You can give a gift card to that store instead.

DIY Food Gift

If money is tight, a plate of homemade cookies–even the slice-and-bake variety–is wonderful. This was our go-to teacher gift during the lean, suddenly frugal years.

What I like about the gift of food is that teachers can share these with their colleagues. We love Ghirardelli mixes for making brownies!

FYI, when you sign up for Prime Pantry, you’ll save even more on brownie mix and everything else.

Gifts for Elementary School Teachers

I still love the notion of a gift card as a gift for an elementary school teacher. An Amazon Gift Card would work here, too.

Since I’ve run into my children’s teachers at the local java joint on school mornings, it dawned on me that a coffee gift card to help them with their morning Joe just might be the perfect teacher gift idea.

The gift of games for the classroom

Another clever gift idea for an elementary school teacher? A board game for the classroom. My daughters favorite when they were little was Connect 4. If you give the gift of games for the clasroom, this gives the kids have something new to play with during indoor recess.

Don’t forget staff and specials teachers

FYI, when my kids were in elementary school, I gave a gift to the primary classroom teacher. In addition, I gave school staff appreciation gifts. That would be for student teachers, classroom assistants and other staff in the school.

Also, I always gifted the specials’ teachers. I figured not many parents remembered those educators who are an integral part of your child’s school experience as well. Maybe it’s because my mother was a physical education teacher and my father a music teacher that I remembered little gifts for these teachers. A gift card in a nominal amount to treat them to coffee would be great.

Middle School Teacher Gifts

Once again gift cards can come in handy as a teacher gift. Wondering how much to spend on teacher gift cards? Even if you can only afford $5 or $10 each, that’s enough. A Fandango gift card will definitely keep you in this budget range.

Buy gift cards in bulk

You can always count on companies to offer free gift card deals at the holidays. This free gift card usually comes when you buy gift cards in bulk.

This year many restaurants are offering free bonus gift cards when you buy a certain amount of gift cards. This may help you get the gift cards you need at what amounts to a discount. In fact, this is my favorite way to get cheap gifts cards.

Right now you can find deals on gift cards to the following restaurants, including free shipping:

Restaurant Gift Cards: Clever Teacher Gifts Ideas for the Holidays

Check out gift card marketplaces

You can also try buying gift cards on one of those marketplaces. These are the online stores that have legit gift cards at a discount.

One such store is Raise.com. Right now, you can get ready for the holidays and save! New customers get $5 off their first order of $50 or more with code RAISEAF50.

Best Gifts for High School Teachers

One of the best gifts I could give my daughters’ high school teachers was a way to give back.

In our school district there is an education fund that allows you to make a donation in the teachers’ names. The teachers are notified of your donation. Then, they are able to apply for a grant to use this money to somehow better their classroom or their students’ educational experience.

It’s one of those perfect little gifts for teachers that doesn’t cost a lot but can make a huge impact.

If your school district doesn’t have a foundation, then many of the middle school teacher gifts work for high school teachers, too. So think gift cards and food.

Gift card for an online stylist

A well-dressed high school teacher might enjoy the gift of a personal stylist. An affordable personal online stylist, that is.

Online styling company Stitch Fix gift cards start at $20. You can give Stitch Fix for men’s clothing and women’s clothing. Here’s my review of four popular women’s online styling companies.

Stitch Fix: Clever Teacher Gifts Ideas for the Holidays

Finally, is your child’s teacher a crazy dog (or cat) person? As a proud dog mom myself, I’m thrilled whenever someone gives me a gift related to my pets.

Teacher Gifts in College

Just kidding–you’re finally off the hook. Now it’s up to your kids (now adults) to figure out how to come up with teacher gifts for their professors!

One More Idea for Clever Teacher Gifts

Still stumped about clever teacher gifts? I know that a handwritten note from your child can go a long way. Have your child tell a teacher how they feel (in a good way) about being in that classroom. That might be the best gift of all that a teacher could receive.

In fact, many teachers tell me that the best gift they can receive from a student is a note from a student. A great way to be frugal when it comes to giving someone a handwritten card is to buy them in bulk. I love these all-occasion, blank notecards from Amazon. You get 48 cards for less than a quarter (i.e. $.25) a card!

A Personal Note: Clever Teacher Gifts Ideas for the Holidays


If you’re a teacher or an educator and I’ve missed any great ideas you’ve given or received, please post a comment below.

clever teacher gifts holidays

10 thoughts on “Clever Teacher Gifts Ideas for the Holidays”

  1. Many of my friends are teachers, and I see them get gifts that they find touching, but there is just no place to put them. A picture frame with puzzle pieces, for example, is a cute idea but multiplied by 20 students — that eats up a lot of space and one runs into the problem of different tastes. Best bet, I find, is something edible or drinkable or gift certificates for those things OR some kind of book or stationery gift card. Teachers end up spending a lot of their personal money on their classrooms, and even if the teacher chooses to buy a book for the classroom rather than themselves, it is still benefitting the teacher.

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  2. We’re also doing handmade gifts this year. Fancy cookies and chocolate-dipped pretzels, and magnets, and possibly coasters made from felted reclaimed wool (aka from thrift shop sweaters!)

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  3. I love the idea of homemade and handmade gifts, and I’m thrilled to hear that so many of you are choosing this option. If I was a bit more crafty and could do things like can jam (maybe I’ll have my friend DeeDee teach me), I would do the same. Actually, you just reminded me–years ago, I did choose homemade/handmade gifts, which I’d completely forgotten that I’d done. That year I made picture frames for the girls’ teachers. I got a stand-up, lucite frame for each teacher, and hot-glued colorful puzzle pieces around the border. Have glue gun, will gift!

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  4. My daughter’s teacher will be getting a jar of homemade strawberry jam this Christmas. I picked the berries this past summer at a local farm ( which, btw, uses a flock of guinea hens as its main source of pest control) and was canned in my kitchen with a supply of jars that I buy at yard sales and collect from friends. (Seals are new, of course) A gourmet gift that is kind to the planet and kind to my wallet. My daughter will make her own card with a personalized message. In these difficult economic times, I just can’t spend big bucks but I want to let my daughter’s teacher know she is appreciated.

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  5. I'm really excited about the teacher gifts I purchased this year — and I think that you'll like them, too!

    I bought these for each teacher, monogrammed: http://www.garnethill.com/jump.jsp?itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&itemID=11161&fromNewSearch=true&mercadoResultId=15

    It's a reusable tote bag that folds into a small pouch. Perfect for keeping in your purse or bag for a trip to the grocery store, library, etc.

    Since I've made an effort to be green in this way, I thought it would be a cute and fun way to promote it! 🙂

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  6. Luckily for me, I come from a family of teachers (my mother, sister, brothers, BIL, and SIL), so I’ve been told what is and is not good for teacher gifts.

    I usually get the teachers a gift card and then a small treat (usually local gourmet chocolates) to with the card.

    For teachers’ birthdays, I send each child to school with a bouquet of flowers tied with a big ribbon bow and finished off with a hand-written note from the child.

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  7. I have two elem school teachers and one speech teacher to buy for. So far I’ve purchased three Amex gift cards (through a deal at CVS where I got $15 in a gas card for buying $75 in gift cards). AND I am giving each teacher a bog of chocolates from Walgreens (which cost me nothing via rebates).

    I try to gift through the year too — during hte book fair, I bought a small book and a $15 gift certificate for the teacher who runs the patrols and the teacher who runs the environmental club that my kids belong to. And I gave some music note paper clips to my daughter’s chorus teacher. And whenever I find free or super cheap chocolate deals at the drugstores, I leave them in the teacher lounge.

    And like you, I gave my son’s 1st grade teacher a book of Mad Libs. It’s for her and the class, but it’s because my son adores them. And I remember my daughter learned a lot about the parts of speech by playing them when she was his age.

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